How to Shoot a Basketball

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How to Shoot a Basketball in 5 Easy Steps


Written By Lamar Hull @ Google+

5 Easy Steps to Learn How to Shoot a Basketball the right way!

There is no denying that when it comes to basketball you have to be able to dribble well, play hard defense and have a good work ethic. That is what helped me get the opportunity to play in college. It also doesn’t hurt if you are naturally tall and happen to be physically gifted. However, even if the rest of your game is lacking, if you can shoot a basketball that drains through the net at a high percentage, like my man Stephen Curry, you can bet that your coach will find somewhere to put you on the floor.

Being able to shoot will get you more than just a little bit of playing time, but a lot. Guys like Larry Bird, Ray Allen, Peja Stojakovic, and Carmelo Anthony are some of the most purest shooters in the game. But they didn’t just there by picking up a basketball one day and automatically becoming great. Instead, they put in countless hours in the gym, shooting jumpers, free throws and three-pointers until they were the best at what they do. Today we are looking at the basics, and I’ll show you how you can learn to shoot a basketball.

basketball free throw shooting

Step #1: Body Positioning

Before you run off and start jacking up three-pointers from out of your range, start by first lining up just inside the free throw line and face the basket. From there, put your feet shoulder width apart and square your shoulders towards the basket. Then, bend your knees just slightly so that you are in a solid stance that you feel comfortable with. This stance should be agile enough to quickly jump, but also stable enough to where oncoming defenders won’t be able to knock your shooting motion off balance.

Step #2: Shot Pocket

Once you have your body in the right position, grab a basketball and put your shooting hand on it. From here, you will then make a 90-degree angle with your shooting arm, keeping your hand placed on top of the ball. You will then bring your opposite hand and place it just to the side of the ball, in order to keep it in place and in a solid position with your shooting hand, so that opponents can’t steal the ball from you. This position is called the, “shot pocket,” so become familiar with it and be sure that it is something you practice often to develop the correct muscle memory for it.

Basketball Shooting Tips Video – Shooting Pocket

Step #3: Hand & Basketball Positioning

Your hand positioning is going to be one of the biggest parts of how you shoot the ball. After all, a bad hand positioning will likely mean that you’ll get the ball stolen or, even worse, end up clanking majority of your shoots off the rim. Just ask Michael Kidd Gilchrist from the Charlotte Hornets. From the shot pocket, your shooting hand should be just lightly placed on top of the ball. However, do not put your palm directly on the ball, and instead just use your five fingertips to lightly touch the ball. With your non-shooting hand, you also will not want to hold the ball tightly as you begin your shooting motion. Your off-hand is just a guide for the basketball when aiming towards the rim. The non-shooting hand should be used as a guide to simply line your shot up, so that you can guide it in with your dominant shooting hand.

You also want to make sure the basketball’s seams are positioned all in one direction. This provides a level of rotation that will put some backspin on the basketball to give you more accuracy when aiming for the rim.

basketball seams

Seams all in one direction for better rotation

Step #4: Shooting Motion

Once you have the perfect hand and ball positioning that feels comfortable, it’s time to work on what may be the hardest part of your basketball shot, the shooting motion. It’s not difficult to do, but there are a few things that you have to master to become a great and consistent shooter like the pros.

The first part of your shooting motion will be your hands. You will take your shooting hand and non-shooting hand and bring it to the side of your head, keeping your eyes on the back of the rim, and then start to go in an upwards motion towards the rim. It’s important that you do not throw the ball at the rim, but rather shoot it upwards and use the fingertips to push it forward with a good follow through.

During the shot, you’ll also need to keep your shooting elbow in and close to your body. The straighter that you can keep your elbow, and hopefully more aligned with the path of the hoop, the straighter the shot will be. Instead, if you let your elbow go outwards, the path of the ball will vary every time you shoot, because the angle of the elbow will also vary.

Once you start to lift your arms up to shoot, you’ll also want to bend your knees and extend them as well. Keep in mind that on a jump shot, you’ll want to get off the ground and use the force that you need to do so. However, if you are shooting free throws, then you’ll simply straighten your knees without jumping. In either case, your power should come from the action of straightening your knees and using your legs to push the ball up more. You’ll also want to keep your feet straight ahead of you and land close to the same exact spot that you took off from during the shot.

Step #5: Release

Once you let go of the ball, it’s not over yet. Instead, after pushing the ball off your fingertips and watching it float through the air, be sure that you hold your hand out and guide it towards the hoop with a follow through motion. If you are not sure what the follow through looks like, imagine a small child reaching their hand into a cookie jar that they can barely just reach. You should have plenty of angle on your wrist, which will help give the ball a backwards spin. Remember to do your best a getting the seams all in one direction for better rotation. The backspin will come in handy so that if the ball bounces off the rim, it’ll give it a soft touch and keep it near the hoop. Oh yea, keep your eyes on the rim not the basketball!


These are the beginners steps to shooting a basketball. It’s important to keep in mind that every player is going to be a bit different and have their own technique for what feels right. Dirk Nowitzki is one of the most pure shooters in the NBA, but he has a unique style that looks different than others. However, the reason that Dirk is so good is because he put the time and effort in the gym when he was younger to be the best shooter that he could be today. Therefore, you can use the tips mentioned here to develop a solid groundwork, and then adjust until you feel incredibly comfortable each time you shoot the ball. Most importantly, you have to get in the gym and perfect the jump shot by taking a lot of them and utilizing the fundamentals taught in this post.

Did I miss anything, what else should you focus on when shooting a basketball?

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